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Matter and Life Final Cause as a function in book IV of Aristotle's Meteorologica

Grant number: 20/03144-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2020
Effective date (End): October 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Marco Antônio de Ávila Zingano
Grantee:Nélio Gilberto dos Santos
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:15/05317-8 - Theories of causation and human agency in ancient Greek philosophy, AP.TEM


The purpose of this study is to inquire about the meaning of natural teleology that Aristotle proposes in the last lines of his treatise entitled Meteorologica, in chapter 12 of book IV. The surprising way to approach the final cause as a function, ergon, in this chapter that concludes the study of natural phenomena and introduces the study of living beings, subjecting his teleological doctrine to a functionalist interpretation, which at first is unorthodox with the rest of his work where the internal end is identified at the form of the natural reality. Indeed, if in Aristotelian doctrine the idea of function is relevant and makes sense especially in his biological analyses, through the relationship that is established in a relatively harmonious way between a living being as a whole and its different parts, what would be its meaning when does it try to consider inorganic matter, or even the four elements: fire, air, water and earth? Could it even be possible to think of a function for natural phenomena like rain? To determine the meaning of teleology in this passage is necessary to understand the idea of end as a function in a more comprehensive way, that is, since the dualism that Aristotle establishes for every teleological process, as he expresses in Book II of De Anima in a particularly concise formula: to hou and to hoi, that is, the end-of and the end-for. Understanding the meaning of end-function teleology in the philosophy of nature will require research in two directions: a study about the matter in non-organic realities, in particular through the study of its theory of the four elements, and the constitution of the Cosmos ; and another study that deals with the constitution of living beings based on the processes of matter.